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Conspiracy of silence and the invisibility of blacks in england, 1850-1950

Adebayo A. Lawal

This research proposal intends to compare the popular academic achievements of the African Americans with those of the blacks in England. While there are celebratory publications about African American Scholars in the various disciplines including science, technology and inventions, one is yet to lay hands on similar publications on the achievements of the black in England for outstanding scholarship in various disciplines to inspire us as a point of reference. The questions that arise are: did the powers in the ivory towers deliberately suppress information on black scholars and their spectacular achievements on account of racial prejudice or indoctrination? Were there legal provisions that limited or constrained their scholarship or forbad their publications and establishment of newspapers? Were the blacks victims of inferiority complex to succumb to the status quo?

Naturally one is inclined to say no to all – the questions because of the possibility of correspondence between England and the United States within the period of the research focus. No doubt, social developments across the Atlantic had tremendous influence on Europe and the Americas, hence the constant exchange of ideas, letters, trade, emigrations from Europe and immigrations into the United States for greener pastures. One wonders how many black Europeans were among the immigrants, and to what extent the racial questions in America influenced a similar situation in England and vice versa.

The research searchlight will also focus on the contributions of the church, the government and philanthropic organizations to the educational development of the blacks as well as the impact of the beneficiaries of philanthropy, mission houses and public expenditure on the socio-economic development of England. One wonders what kind of educational curricula were designed for the blacks? How did the blacks react to the programmes? Were they restricted to some particular occupations, and forbidden to form or belong to any labour unions? On what grounds were they subjected to various forms of valorization? How did they break and destroy the racial jinx? Could we identify among them “a talented tenth” according to Dubois who symbolized the black genius and became a mount-piece for black identity? No doubt there were changes occasioned by imperialism, colonialism, scientific discoveries, the world wars and the great Depression that affected various governments, States and Civil Rights movements.

It will be interesting to know how the blacks in England reacted to these developments in the United States and African colonies in the 1960s for the purpose of redefining their identities as full fledged citizens who must be heard, regardless of their variations of colour whether or not they were black, mulatto, sambo, quadroon, mustee and musteefano. Did they publish their dissertations in the various English Universities? Why could such publications not circulates to Africa? Or were they banned from Africa or America. Other measures that promoted black’s invisibility from Africa’s perspective will be examined and suggestions will be proferred on how black achievers could be known in Africa and elsewhere and celebrated adequately like Booker T. Washington, Dubois, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., and other African – Americans who contributed immensely to Pan-Africanism, decolonization process and independence of African Colonies.

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